Sunday, June 25, 2017

LINK: WILD ABOUT HARRY: Inside Houdini's 278

Last Sunday, June 18th, there was an open house at the location of Harry Houdini's home in New York. This would be the first time that many people have ever seen in the inside of the house. I unfortunately, was unable to attend. If I had found out a bit sooner, I would have been there, but as it was I had performances which I was unable to reschedule at the last minute. So I missed an opportunity of a lifetime. Though, something tells me I shall yet see the house one day.


My fellow Houdini-fanatic, John Cox, of WildAboutHoudini.com was there. He has written what I believe is his ultimate Houdini article. I don't believe anything he has written before or in the future will ever top this piece. Writing about history is one thing, experiencing history first hand is another. John got to experience history and not only that, because he has incredible knowledge of Houdini, he was able to figure out things about the house, areas where Houdini had taken iconic photos and more, that the average person just wouldn't know about. Seeing the many additional photos that he included in his article, I must say that even I would have been unable to deliver such a fine piece. His photos of the inside of the house from The American Museum of Magic, really took the article over the top. I will always regret not being able to make it, but like Houdini, I chose the path of performing, and history was a later passion. Still, if the opportunity to explore the house ever comes up again, I do hope I am able to take full advantage. And I'll be carrying John's article with me as I explore the place because it is so rich with details. Thank you John and now folks, please head over there and read all about it (if you have not already done so!)

WILD ABOUT HARRY: Inside Houdini's 278: Last Sunday I spent three remarkable hours inside Houdini's house at 278 West 113th Street in New York City. The occasion was an open...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

1953 Houdini and A Pair of Houdini Handcuffs



My fascination with handcuffs began with the scene depicted above from the 1953 movie HOUDINI with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. In the scene, Harry brings home a pair of cuffs, according to him "they're good ones". And Bess puts them on Harry. She covers his hands with a towel and bing-bang- boom, he is FREE!!!! It's actually a rather stunning performance, because he is out almost instantly, no struggle, no contorting, he is just out. The cuffs in question are called Hamburg 8s and they are an unusual make of cuff.

As you can see by the image to the right, when closed they form a figure 8. They hold the hands quite
securely and don't allow for much movement, unlike ratchet cuffs that have a chain in the middle. By the way, these Hamburg 8s that I'm holding belonged to Harry Houdini. They are now in the possession of his great nephew, John Hinson. And John brought them to the 2016 Yankee Gathering just so I could see them! I was awestruck to say the least. They were very small, but the more I thought about it, I have a pair about that size that I got from Ian McColl a long while ago. My wrists are fairly large so a lot of cuffs seem small to me.

John let me examine them and even 'try' them on. I say 'try' them on, because he didn't bring the key and they were far too small to fit my wrists. I must admit, I had just the tiniest bit of temptation to force them shut on my wrists to see if I could get out. I think I could have gotten them closed, with a fair degree of pain in the process! Common sense quickly stepped in and kicked the temptation to the curb. For the record, I have gotten out of Hamburg 8s before. But I would never put a pair of Houdini cuffs on EVEN if they did fit. These mechanisms inside are 100 years old and the cuffs are worth a LOT of money. If something were to happen and the lock sudden failed or broke, well it would be a disaster for all parties. So I would never lock a pair of Houdini cuffs on me or anyone.

For a long time I was under the impression that Houdini never really encountered a pair of Hamburg 8s because they came out after he passed away. Though I don't have a definite date of manufacture (some say they were patented in the 1930s), I have seen photographic proof of that style cuff existing during Houdini's time, just not on Houdini.  Plus some folks over at the Forum at Handcuffs.org have had a lengthy discussion over it and again, it does seem to  point to  the cuff existing in Houdini's time.  I totally believe that the cuffs John Hinson had did belong to Houdini. Interestingly, there are several versions of the cuff, one with a side key hole, some with flat keys, curved keys, even circular keys. But all lock the same way. I've included a very short video below of John and I putting on the cuffs. (IF the video shows up, I've been having issues getting it loaded)


video

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Magic Collectors Weekend Report


I'm not sure if I've had a guest blogger on here, or if I have it's been a while. My friend Blair Marshall who is a great Magician/Illusionist from Canada, attended the Magic Collectors Weekend, and I asked him if he could share his experience with the readers of TheMagicDetective.com. I discovered that John Cox from WildAboutHoudini.com had a guest blogger do a write up for his site as well. I decided to wait a couple days before I put this up to give folks enough time to see his write-up. I purposely chose to use a similar format, but have done my best to give you different photos and different content.

And now, Take It Away Blair...

Mike Caveney started the day by doing an awesome job telling The Egyptian Hall story to the gathering here in Montreal for the Magic Collectors Weekend. Egyptian Hall was the magic collection of David Price Jr.. To read more about Egyptian Hall, follow this link


What an amazing kick-off to our day at the McCord Museum and the opening weekend of their Illusions: The Art of Magic exhibit. Prepare to see some really incredible images I took during my time at the exhibit!


Here are some of the photos of the amazing magic poster collection at the Montreal McCord Musuem we saw during the Magic Collectors Weekend. The exhibit represents approx. 10% of their collection. They are beautifully displayed and the exhibition halls are well themed. A big thank-you to Christian Vachon, the poster collection curator, for the love, care, and attention to detail that he gave to this amazing exhibit. BRAVO CHRISTIAN, BRAVO McCORD!!!





If those pictures were part of the 10%, what else is there??? As part of the MCW we were taken "behind the scenes" by the magic poster collection curator Christian Vachon and down into the vault where we saw some amazing HUGE posters . Merci Christian!


The attendees to the MCW were taken to the library by Geneviève Déziel of the Montreal McCord Musuem where we got to view some of the Houdini artifacts from the collection (not shown to the public).

This is the former student union hall where it is said Houdini gave his last talk to the McGill students on spirit mediums, he died just a few days later.

The museum may eventually do a Houdini exhibit.


We did not know the programming for the Magic Collector's Weekend here in Montreal.  Little did I know that the Friday evening event was about the early years of Doug Henning. After an opening talk by Michael Grandinetti, the stage was taken over by Brian Lumley and Maya (Lesley Fitzpatrick-Walker ), two of Doug's very close friends and assistants from the "Spellbound" days and on. Brian was a carpenter (still is) and built sets and props for Spellbound.  Maya was part of a two woman magic act called Mars and Mayo who worked with Doug.

I had met Doug Henning prior to them in 1969/70, and I had performed on a magic convention show with Maya and Mars in 1977. So it was great meet them and to reconnect with Maya again. (ed note: To read more about Maya, visit her site where she talks about Doug http://www.mayafair.ca/previous-incarnations/)

On Saturday evening, after the show The Allan Slaight Awards were given out. To read more about the awards please visit http://www.magicana.com/news/blog/and-award-goes-0

Julie Eng and David Ben, along with their support team, did an awesome job pulling together the Magic Collectors Weekend here in Montreal, folks from all over the world attended, making it truly an international event. Thanks Julie and Ben!!!!!
Blair Marshall and Julie Eng
 Thanks BLAIR for the great photos and report!!! Also, please go to http://www.magicana.com/ to see all the wonderful articles and videos of magic history they offer and subscribe to their magazine. Also, visit http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/exhibitions/magic/   to learn more about the exhibit.
And finally, Please check out John Cox's site to get even more perspective on the weekend.. http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2017/05/magic-comes-to-mccord-museum-in-montreal.html